JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
Clashes between rioters and Israeli security forces claimed nine more Arab lives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during a weekend of unrest. More than a score were reported wounded.
The latest eruptions of violence, among the bloodiest since unrest broke out in the territories Dec. 9, coincided with the visit of U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, who arrived in Israel on Thursday.
The flare-up triggered angry recriminations at the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, where Likud ministers charged the Israel Defense Force was not tough enough suppressing riots and had failed to come to the rescue of an Arab employee of the West Bank civil administration who was lynched by a mob in his home village of Kabatiya on Wednesday.
Likud ministers also demanded that the press and television be barred from the administered territories, a measure forcefully rejected only a few days before by the IDF chief of staff, Gen. Dan Shomron.
Israelis, military and civilian, were stunned, meanwhile, by television newsreel footage showing four soldiers kicking and beating two bound Palestinian youths under interrogation at a military prison, despite explicit orders issued by the chief of staff Tuesday forbidding such behavior.
The footage was made by a CBS News television camera crew and was distributed worldwide. The soldiers involved have been detained for questioning. Their commander was suspended and the two Arabs were released.
OFFICERS VIEW CBS FILM
Gen. Amram Mitzna, commander of the central sector, which covers the West Bank, summoned the senior officers of all IDF units in the territory Sunday to view the film. “The IDF will not be turned into a mob army,” he declared.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chief of Staff Shomron were scheduled to meet late Sunday with soldiers of the unit involved.
Shomron’s orders, based on a directive to Rabin from Attorney General Yosef Harish that the IDF clarify its policy to field commanders, stated that physical force was not to be used to punish or humiliate Palestinians and under no circumstances while suspects were in custody and not resisting.
The Arab death toll over the weekend reached nine Sunday when two Palestinians died at a Ramallah hospital of wounds suffered Saturday in the nearby village of Abud.
The IDF is investigating events in Abud, where soldiers were pelted with stones and a main road was blocked. Shots were fired as demonstrators were being dispersed. It was not clear who fired the fatal shots. The IDF reported that several Jewish settlers were seen at the site of the rioting.
Seven other Arabs were killed and at least 20 were wounded Friday and Saturday during riots in the town of Halhoul and the El-Arub refugee camp, both in the Hebron region. El-Arub was placed under curfew, as was the nearby village of Bani Naim. Curfews also were in force at the El Bureij and Jabalya refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian fatalities since Dec. 9 have reached 76, according to official figures, with 30 killed this month alone. Sources here said the mounting toll of dead and wounded indicate the IDF has reverted to live ammunition to quell riots, because rubber bullets and tear gas have not been effective and the policy of beatings has been restricted.
Fewer incidents were reported in the territories Sunday. A Palestinian youth was wounded in a clash with the IDF in Taiba village near Ramallah. A bus carrying Arab laborers to jobs in Israel was set on fire in Hawara village in the Samaria district of the West Bank.
But most Arabs employed in Israel reported for work Sunday, despite an ongoing commercial strike in the territories.